Satori Staff 2023


Mike Cantlon – Satori Camp Co-founder and Director
After nearly 40 years of teaching gifted student for Spokane School District 81, Mike retired in 2018. Now, Mike is enjoying quasi-retirement by…continuing to teach every chance he gets and to anyone who will listen.
Dr. Bruce Mitchell – Satori Camp Co-founder
Bruce was a life-long teacher who co-founded Satori with Mike Cantlon. Doc was a noted researcher and author in the areas of creativity, gifted education, and multicultural education. We are a family because of Doc and he is sorely missed by the whole Satori family.

*Sara Maleki, Esq. – Satori Camp Associate Director
She is a graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law and is an attorney and shareholder at GLP Attorneys in Spokane, WA. She has had the pleasure of being the Satori Associate Director for…several years. She is totally 25 years old.


Satori Camp counselors are predominantly certified teachers and students in an education program. We also have several former Satori campers who have worked their way into camp counselor positions.


Dr. Jason Ashley – holds a doctorate in molecular and cellular pathology and is an associate professor in the biology department at EWU.

*F. Tyler Burnet – holds a MFA from University of Georgia Athens and recently completed the national tours of West Side Story and Sister Act.

Kaitlyn Etter Burnet – has a BFA in Musical Theatre and a Master of Arts in Teaching. She was on the National/International tour of Sister Act. She currently teaches theatre in Ridgefield, WA.

Nigel Davies – holds a BA Washington University in St Louis Earth and Planetary Science and an MSc Western Washington University Geology. He is a professor of geology at Eastern Washington University.

*Clay Elliott – has a BA in Archaeology from The Evergreen State College, followed by an M.Ed in gifted education and multilingual learners from Whitworth University. Clay is an experienced educator who taught overseas for several years and currently teaches at the high school level for Spokane Public Schools. 

RJ Ermola, Esq. – is a managing attorney at a Spokane law firm. He has been an attorney for 16 years practicing in civil litigation. He has a business degree from New York University and law degree from Western Michigan.

*Cassidy Freeman – has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with minors in Statistical Mathematics and Biology and is currently attending Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine with an interest in small animal emergency.

*Emily Powell Gilliam – is a storyteller and illustrator with a Master of Design in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and over a decade of design experience in the toy industry. Now she writes and illustrates picture books, which aren’t that different from games–they should both take you on fun-filled, colorful adventures.

Claire Grubb – is currently working on her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy at Antioch University in Seattle. When she’s not studying or working as a childcare provider, Claire is collecting new creative hobbies.

Dr. Derek Hutchinsonis a curriculum designer and educator of highly capable middle school students in the Kansas City area. His academic background is in the relationship between learning and the composition of identity.

*Joe Johnson – graduated from Lawrence University with a BA in Theatre Arts and Psychology, after attending Odyssey and Lewis and Clark High School. An avid supporter of the Portland arts scene, his academic interests include music, language, culture, storytelling, communication, and design.

David Lott – earned a degree in Chemistry from Gonzaga University and has spent the last 25 years working in the fuel cell industry. His work developing fuel cell technology has helped generate over 20 patents covering a wide variety of topics. He now manages a fuel cell stack development team for Plug Power.

Dr. Terrance MacMullan – has loved teaching Philosophy classes at EWU since 2002. He writes and teaches about the history of philosophy, American Pragmatism and Pop Culture and Philosophy. Currently he focuses on Latin American Philosophy and philosophy for children. Terry first played D&D in 1982 and has loved it ever since! When not teaching he enjoys being a dad, acting in local theater companies, playing D&D at Merlyn’s and cosplaying as Qui Gon Jinn.

*CM Manchester – has a BA in creative writing and literature from The Evergreen State College and is currently working on an MA in museum studies while working as an educator at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Greg McGuire – Satori’s beloved DJ brings more than 20 years of experience of DJing Satori dances. In addition, Greg works in Computer Sciences at Gonzaga University.

JaKe McNinch – graduated from the University of Washington with BAs in ‘Medical Anthropology and Global Health’ and ‘Romance Linguistics.’ Currently he is working to create better health outcomes through improved doctor/patient relationships while on the path to a ‘Rural Health MD.’

*Random Powell –holds a BS in Human Resource Management from WGU, but hasn’t let that stop him from finding a passion in healthcare IT.

Dr. Kristina Ploeger-Hekmatpanah – has gotten to teach vocal things at EWU since 2006. She arranges music and teaches singing, choirs, jazz choir, and music education courses and goes out Musicking whenever possible!

Alexis Sampson – earned an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University and then began her career in the biotech industry. She also she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from University of Portland. She currently teaches middle and high school math at Spokane International Academy.

*Connor Shirley – has worked as a reader and assistant editor for various literary magazines and online publications. 

*Sam Thompson – is an Industrial Designer who has worked on everything from the stuff that gets glued on to the front of greeting cards, to architectural features consisting of 720 dinner plates suspended from a lobby ceiling in the topology of Northern Arkansas.

Shawn Tolley – is a music teacher in Spokane, WA.  His elementary music classes focus on performing music in a culturally responsible and traditional way.  He leads after school performance ensembles working in World Music and Dance (Shaura), Zimbabwean style marimba (Rutsungo), and Japanese taiko (乗り越える太鼓, Norikoeru Taiko).

*Matthew Weiser – a nerdy rock climber who enjoys life and chases his passions, which include comic books and Dungeons and Dragons.

*Brannon Zahand – is a Senior Gaming Accessibility Program Manager at Microsoft as well as a member of the gaming and disability community. After years spent in a variety of roles at Xbox, including at 343 Industries working on Halo 5 and Halo Infinite, Brannon now spends his days working to ensure that gaming is truly for everyone.

*Denotes former Satori campers.